High oleic (HO) soybean varieties offer end-users a U.S.-grown commodity that meets the needs of many food industry customers as a trans-fat-free replacement for partially hydrogenated oil (PHO). High oleic soybeans were launched commercially in 2012, and the 2015 announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to phase out PHO’s has added to the importance of HO soybean production by U.S. producers. High oleic soybeans received global regulatory approval in Jan. 2018, and this allows seed of these varieties to expand into new markets.
The positive traits of HO soybeans are provided in the article titled “High Oleic Soybean Oil: Providing Heart-Health and Functional Benefits to the Food Industry“ that is sponsored by U.S. SOY (USSOY.ORG), which is fully funded by the national soybean checkoff. A list of major HO soybean traits and advantages follows.
• According to the United Soybean Board (USB) publication High Oleic Soybeans, HO soybean varieties contain the same agronomic traits as traditional varieties, and their yield is competitive with that of those varieties.
• The premium paid for harvested seed of HO soybean varieties makes them attractive for soybean producers to grow to increase their profitability.
• HO soybean oil is more stable in high-heat applications, is high in monounsaturated fats and low in polyunsaturated fats, and has a longer fry-life and shelf life than conventional vegetable oils.
• HO soybeans can replace petroleum-based products in some industrial applications. For example, an article titled “High Oleic Soy Roots Itself in a New Use” describes its use as a biobased polymer that can be used in asphalt.
• HO soybean oil contains more than 70% oleic acid (a monounsaturated fatty acid), making it comparable to high oleic canola and olive oils. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated vegetable oil, which makes it more stable than polyunsaturated oils. Also, monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic can lower levels of “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and total cholesterol while maintaining “good” (HDL) cholesterol levels.
• Seed of HO soybean varieties are also lower in linoleic and linolenic fatty acids than seed of commodity soybeans.
• HO soybean varieties on the market are expected to expand to MG 5 by 2023.
There are choices for producers who want to grow HO soybeans. SOYLEIC is a patented, non-GMO, HO soybean trait developed by soybean breeder Dr. Grover Shannon and colleagues at the Univ. of Missouri. This trait was developed through partnerships among the Univ. of Missouri, the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, the USB, and the USDA, and is now available to seed developers and breeding programs in the entire U.S. Two mutant alleles of genes FAD2-1A and FAD2-1B are responsible for the SOYLEIC high oleic acid seed oil trait. Currently, the focus of the SOYLEIC breeding program is on MG 3 and 4 conventional (non-GMO) and Enlist E3 (GMO) varieties, with the planned release of HO soybean lines in 2022 and beyond. Go to here, here, and here for additional information about and resources pertaining to SOYLEIC. Plenish soybean varieties from Pioneer contain more than 75% oleic acid (compared to about 23% in regular soybean oil), and contain a full array of Pioneer’s most advanced yield and pest resistance traits. Presently, these GMO varieties offer only the Roundup-Ready trait for weed control, but Pioneer is working toward incorporating high oleic genetics into varieties with the Enlist E3 weed control trait. The target date for Plenish varieties with the Enlist weed control trait is 2025. A list of soybean processors that will contract for seed of Plenish varieties can be found here. It is noted that all of these processors are in the midwestern and northeastern U.S.
HO soybeans must be treated as an identify-preserved crop, which means seed of these varieties must be kept separate from seed of commodity soybeans. Thus, planters, seed handling equipment, combines, and seed hauling equipment must be cleaned to ensure that they contain no other seeds before using seeds of HO soybean varieties. This also means that seed of the non-GMO SOYLEIC varieties must be kept separate from seed of the GMO Plenish varieties even though both are HO soybean varieties.
According to information in an article titled “Demand Far Exceeds Supply for High Oleic Soybeans“ by Larry Lee that appeared in Brownfield Agnews on July 28, 2022, there are not enough HO soybean varieties being grown to meet the current and projected future demands. A USB-funded project is being conducted to expand the available SOYLEIC soybean varieties in MG’s 1 through 5 to increase availability of these non-GMO varieties with the HO trait.
Composed by Larry G. Heatherly, Sep. 2022, firstname.lastname@example.org